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Real Sociedad

Vs.

FC Barcelona

Paseo de Anoeta, San Sabestian

Wednesday, February 12, 2014; 21:00 Hrs GMT

FC Barcelona go into the encounter with a 2-0 advantage from the opening leg thanks to a Sergio Busquets effort and an own goal from Enaut Zubikarai at the Nou Camp.

The Blaugrana have not won at Real Sociedad since May 2007, which will work s added incentive for them with a 2-0 advantage from last week’s first leg at Camp Nou. However, the Basque side are a more than competent outfit and it would be naive to right them off simply because they are not Real, or Atletico Madrid.

The Liga champions should not lack confidence, though, after a spell off the summit of the Primera Division was promptly ended after just eight days courtesy of Sunday’s 4-1 win at Sevilla.

Real Sociedad know they face a monumental task to knock out Barca, but they have not written off their hopes.

“We know we face a huge task against Barca,” Real Sociedad defender Jon Ansotegi said. “But for many of us this could be our only opportunity to play in a final.

“It’s clear that we need to go all out and we are mentally prepared.”

Jagoba Arrasate’s side were held to a goalless draw by Levante at the weekend.

The Basques are sixth in the standings, six points behind Athletic Bilbao, who hold the last Champions League qualifying spot.

Team News & Tactical Brief

Real Soceiedad

The Basques will still be entertaining hopes of reaching the final, though, and can look to last year’s 3-2 win over Barcelona at Anoeta – after going 2-0 down – for some inspiration.

New signing Sergio Canales could be in line to make his Sociedad debut against Barcelona  after signing from La Liga rivals Valencia in the January transfer window, but Antoine Griezmann and Carlos Vela will remain the key players of the Basque side. However, the Frenchman has been used sparingly in this competition and may not be guaranteed a starting berth.

Sociedad defender Ion Ansotegi is not ruling out a repeat of Sevilla game on Wednesday.

He said: “On our part it is a tremendous motivation to be one step away from the final, but we know that it will be very difficult.

“We have never had a chance to play a final, and this is perhaps the only one.

“People believe [it can happen]. There is a magical atmosphere at Anoeta and all the fans can help us so that Barca is not the usual Barca.”

Sociedad will be without the banned Inigo Martinez after his red card in the first leg.110214152418

Probable Starting Lineup [4-3-3]Bravo; C.Martínez, Mikel, Jose Valdes, De la Bella; Bergara, Pardo, Zurutuza; Vela, Canales , Griezmann.

 

FC Barcelona

Gerardo Martino has named all available players in a 22-man squad for tomorrow’s match, leaving himself plenty of options to choose his starting line-up from. The likes of Isaac Cuenca and Ibrahim Afellay are included for example, although chances are that both will be cut from the squad before kick-off. However, Martino is set to field the same side-up that won 4-1 at Sevilla on Sunday, with Alexis Sanchez, Pedro and Lionel Messi in attack.(c)sports(dot)terra(dot)com_messi_neymar

But Barca coach Tata Martino is not taking anything for granted.

“Each time there is less margin for error,” Martino told Barcelona’s official website.

“We are at a crucial stage of the season and it’s clear that each time there will be fewer chances to make changes in the team, although we will try to give opportunities to players that are in good condition.”

The Catalans had previously topped the table for 59 weeks and a virtuoso display from Lionel Messi helped them get back to winning ways.

Gerardo Martino claimed the Argentina forward had made Sevilla pay for harsh words from critics in the lead-up to the game and the Barca coach will be hopeful that his No.10 will prove just as decisive against Sociedad, against whom he has netted seven times in nine outings.

The Basques will still be entertaining hopes of reaching the final, though, and can look to last year’s 3-2 win over Barcelona at Anoeta – after going 2-0 down – for some inspiration.

Early efforts from Messi and Pedro looked to have set Barca on their way to an easy win but a goal from Gonzalo Castro and Gerard Pique’s sending off rocked them.

Castro equalised six minutes after the defender’s dismissal and Imanol Agirretxe popped up with a dramatic the winner in the 90th-minute.

Defenders Javier Mascherano and Jordi Alba may return after missing the win over Sevilla due to Liga.

Neymar returned to training on Monday, having recovered from the injury to his right ankle that has seen him sit out seven games.

However, the Brazilian forward is unlikely to feature on Wednesday. 110214151958

Probable Starting Lineup [4-3-3]: Pinto; Montoya, Pique, Bartra,Adriano; Xavi, Iniesta, Alex Song; Pedro, Alexis, Messi

Player to Watch out For: Lionel Messi

Messi scored two brilliant goals against Sevilla and will be eager to continue his improvement in form as knockout stage of UEFA Champions League is drawing closer. Argentine is also looking fully recovered from his recent injury woes now.

Prediction

Real Sociedad 1-2 FC Barcelona

Real Sociedad have an impressive home record against Barca but this time it would be difficult to stop in-form strike force of Catalans for them, especially Lionel Messi.